Notebook Systems

One way to record and remember information is to make use of notebooks. A notebook system is an effective way to keep track of all the things you learn over a period of time, and it can form a sort of external memory for you. Writing and organizing what you learn will also help you remember what you learn in class.

You can also combine this method with flashcards and mnemonic devices (See: Why Use Flashcards? and Mnemonic Devices) for more targeted memorization. But you can’t just write things down at random if you want to learn effectively, so you need to organize your notebook for language study. Try the following tips to make effective use of your notebook:

  • Divide your notebook into sections, such as vocabulary, grammar, sounds, and (if your language has a different script) letters/symbols. You might think of more categories, which is fine. Having an organized system is what is important.
  • When you encounter new words, add them to the appropriate section, with the word on one side and the definition and other relevant grammatical information on the other side. You might want to add examples of the word being used from your textbook too.
  • When you find new grammar, don’t organize it into a chart, instead pull examples of the grammar from your book or conversation sessions in use so you can see and recall how it is used. You can also use these examples to make flashcards: Flashcards for Grammar.
  • With sounds and letters/symbols, write them down with an example of their being used. You can also draw pictures or hints that help you recall the sound.
  • You will be constantly adding new information to your notebook from class and your book. Set time aside each week to review a portion of the older material before intensively studying the newer material. At the end of a semester you will be able to look back at everything you have done in the notebook and do a comprehensive review.